William Blount quarterback Trey Clemmer liked what he saw from his team Friday night in a preseason scrimmage against Oak Ridge.
However, he didn’t like what was reflected on the scoreboard — a 21-7 loss.
The Governors are tired of that outcome.
“I was proud of how everybody looked, but we’ve got to win,” Clemmer said. “That’s the No. 1 priority. It doesn’t matter how good we play.”
William Blount has been working toward a breakout season since 2007 — the last time it recorded a winning record.
The Govs finished last year 3-7 and fell one game short of making the playoffs.
Coach Philip Shadowens said the Govs have two priorities heading into the season: forcing turnovers and not giving up big plays.
“I liked some things we did against Oak Ridge, and I didn’t like some things we did,” Shadowens said. “We’re looking for a major improvement from one Friday to the next.”
William Blount has long struggled to match up against the large-school powerhouses such as Maryville, which it will host in its season opener on Aug. 23. The Govs don’t boast the kind of speed many other 6A teams enjoy, making one missed tackle especially costly. For that reason, Shadowens said the team has been focusing on being in a position of leverage as well as forcing turnovers, potentially giving the offense a shorter field.
“We have to win things up front because we know our speed as a whole unit is not as good as some of the teams we play against,” Shadowens said. “You have to be good tacklers because some of those kids break a tackle and they’re gone.”
On offense, Shadowens said the emphasis has been on taking care of the ball and controlling the tempo. Oak Ridge scored one of its three touchdowns off a turnover and another on a big play, hammering home the importance of Shadowens’ preseason lessons.
“We want to be able to possess the football,” he said. “We want to be able to change tempo and go as slow as we want to go or as fast as the officials will allow us. We’re going to do things to try to keep other teams out of sync.”
A junior, Clemmer has been the starter since his freshman year.
He heads into the season with experience, but there is still plenty of youth on the field in the skill positions.
Shadowens said three of William Blount’s four starting wide receivers will likely be sophomores.
“The young guys — they really do want to go hard all the time,” Clemmer said. “They’re just always pumped up to be out there. They really run crisp routes. They’re always doing the right thing and always where they need to be.”
Next up for William Blount is a scrimmage against Hardin Valley. Shadowens said he hopes to see more offensive production and fewer dropped passes.
“We want to win football games — Period,” he said. “So we’re going to approach every game like it’s the state championship. That’s what we stress to our kids and hopefully they buy into that thought because that’s what’s going to make you successful.”